h1n1 http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/10759/all en-US Tips for Preventing Swine Flu Naturally http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-preventing-swine-flu-naturally <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tips-for-preventing-swine-flu-naturally" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/swine.jpg" alt="Swine Flu" title="Swine Flu" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="240" height="240" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It is impossible to avoid coming into contact with the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/surviving-swine-flu">Swine Flu</a> (H1N1), or any other strain of flu for that matter. Because it can take three days before germs entering your body proliferate and become the actual illness, often times people are out in public without any known symptoms, yet they are still carrying and spreading the infection.</p> <p>While you are healthy and not showing flu symptoms, you can help decrease your chances of getting the swine flu with the following natural tips.</p> <h2>Gargle</h2> <p>The only portals of entry for the flu into the body are the mouth, throat and nostrils. By gargling twice each day with warm salt water or Listerine, the proliferation of H1N1 may be prevented. It is believed that gargling with warm salt water as a healthy person is similar to the effect that an infected person receives from taking Tamiflu.</p> <h2>Clean Nose</h2> <p>Blowing your nose hard at least once per day will help clear germs from your nasal cavities. Follow up the nose blowing with a swabbing of both nostrils using a cotton bud dipped in warm salt water.</p> <h2>Drink Warm Liquids</h2> <p>To help wash viruses from your throat and prevent proliferation, drinking warm liquids works in a similar manner as gargling with warm salt water &mdash; except it moves the viruses in the other direction. Once the germs are in your stomach, they can't survive or proliferate.</p> <h2>Boost Natural Immunity</h2> <p>It has been shown that vitamin C plays a role in boosting your body's natural immunity. Increase your intake of foods with Vitamin C (citrus fruits) or take Vitamin C supplements. If using supplements, you'll also want to take zinc to improve your body's absorption of vitamin C.</p> <h2>Decrease Sugar Intake</h2> <p>During flu season especially, it's a good idea to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet. Sugar is absorbed fast by the body but if it is not burned off quickly, it remains in the bloodstream. The problem with excess sugar is that it prevents the ability of white blood cells to do their job and fight foreign organisms.</p> <p>Unless you never leave your home and never allow others to come into your home, it is impossible to completely avoid contact with H1N1, other flu strains, and illnesses in general. Using these tips, along with <a href="http://parentingsquad.com/swine-flu-prevention-tips">frequent hand washing</a>, keeping your hands away from your face, and disinfecting surfaces in your home with a germ-killing cleanser, you can help decrease your risks of getting the flu naturally.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Editor's note: This has been revised to reflect the information provided by readers that the doctor originally quoted was a fake. The information in this article was obtained from a school newsletter that credited the doctor. These tips are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical treatment, advice or diagnosis. </em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-preventing-swine-flu-naturally" class="sharethis-link" title="Tips for Preventing Swine Flu Naturally" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debbie-dragon">Debbie Dragon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-preventing-swine-flu-naturally">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/economic-effects-of-pandemic-flu-in-a-recession">Economic effects of pandemic flu in a recession</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/surviving-swine-flu">Surviving Swine Flu</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-things-you-should-do-today-to-prepare-for-a-pandemic-flu">15 Things You Should Do Today to Prepare for a Pandemic Flu</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-does-a-flu-shot-cost">How Much Does a Flu Shot Cost?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/using-money-to-track-swine-flu">Using Money to Track Swine Flu</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> Health and Beauty h1n1 prevent h1n1 prevent swine flu swine flu Wed, 04 Nov 2009 15:00:01 +0000 Debbie Dragon 3789 at http://www.wisebread.com Surviving Swine Flu http://www.wisebread.com/surviving-swine-flu <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/surviving-swine-flu" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/flu.jpg" alt="Getting a shot" title="What a prick!" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="380" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You're probably going to get swine flu, and there's really&nbsp;no need to freak out.&nbsp;Most people are surviving it just fine. Sure, fear-mongering news reporters love nothing better than a global pandemic to boost their ratings with sensationalist coverage of school shut-downs and hospitalizations, but while swine flu is no picnic, it doesn't look like it's going to wipe out civilization as we know it.</p> <p>Let's go ahead and take a fatalistic approach to this virus. We're going to get it, and we're probably going to survive it; but those who are in high-risk catgories need to take special precautions. Wash your hands all you want; it's a virus, and it will travel.</p> <p>We need a level-headed approach to combating this illness, and with a vaccine still not available to the public, it's important to take stock of your health and protect yourself and your loved ones before the flu season really takes off.</p> <h2>Know if you are at risk</h2> <p>You expect the flu to pick off the old and infirm, but this flu is different. You might not be happy to hear that most of the 77 swine-flu related deaths recently studied by the CDC had underlying <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2009/09/lurking_bacteria_raise_risks_f.html">conditions like asthma or diabetes</a> that complicated their illness (10% of the U.S. population has <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/FASTATS/diabetes.htm">diabetes</a>; 16.4% has <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/FASTATS/asthma.htm">asthma</a>). If you are asthmatic, your condition can be aggravated by respiratory complications associated with the flu, so have your fast-acting bronchial dilator on hand and talk to your doctor about other precautions you might want to take. Diabetics are slower to heal and more prone to infections, so discuss a proactive approach with your doctor before you get sick.</p> <h2>Consider a pneumonia vaccination</h2> <p>The swine flu vaccine itself is days or possibly weeks away, and the biggest risk of the flu isn't really the flu virus itself, but rather the bacterial infections that strike once your immune system has been weakened by the flu. Data from the CDC suggests what most doctors probably could have guessed: up to 29% of people who have died while infected with the swine flu have also had <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33088461/ns/health-swine_flu/">accompanying infections like pneumonia</a>. I didn't even know that you could get a vaccine for pneumonia until recently, but apparently this <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2009/aug/04/science/sci-pneumonia4">underused&nbsp;treatment is fairly effective</a>. The vaccine only needs to be given twice in a lifetime, and although&nbsp;it only covers a couple dozen strains of pneumonia (there are more than <a href="http://www.medicinenet.com/pneumococcal_vaccination/article.htm">80 different types</a>), most infections are caused by the 23 strains of bacteria&nbsp;that are included in the vaccine. Pregnant/nursing women and children under the age of two <a href="http://www.ehealthmd.com/library/pneumonia/PNM_prevention.html">are not generally vaccinated.</a></p> <p>I've been calling around, and the price of a pneumonia vaccine seems to range between $30-55. That's not exactly cheap, but for an asthmatic like me, it's cheaper than a trip to the emergency room (again). Check your local pharmacy or clinic to see if they are offering pneumonia vaccines; many pharmacies are scheduling vaccination clinics that include the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-does-a-flu-shot-cost">flu shot</a> and pneumonia vaccinations at the same time. The vaccine isn't always covered by insurance.</p> <h2>Exercise and eat well</h2> <p>This is obviously something everyone should be doing already, but if today is the first day that you put down the bag of Doritos and take a slow walk around the block, so be it. You don't have to deprive yourself and go crazy with a weight-loss scheme; just add some fresh fruit and veggies (the&nbsp;darker, the better &mdash; think berries and kale) to your daily food intake and find ways to keep your blood pumping, even if it means long, leisurely walks around the block. Take deep breaths and try to slowly expand your lung capacity. Don't exhaust yourself, because that can just make you more prone to illness.</p> <h2>Get enough Vitamin D</h2> <p>Many people live with <a href="http://healthytheory.com/vitamin-d-is-the-new-vitamin-c">vitamin D deficiency</a>, and it can be difficult to tell that you have one without a blood test. Vitamin D <a href="http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/healthday/2009/02/23/too-little-vitamin-d-may-mean-more-colds-and-flu.html">may play an essential role </a>in keeping your immune system, particularly your respiratory system, healthy. There are few ways to get enough vitamin D, but you can take supplements, drink vitamin D-fortified milk (3 glasses a day), or make a point of spending at least 15 minutes a day outside during the sun's peak hours (11AM-1PM).</p> <h2>Get plenty of sleep</h2> <p>The flu hits those who are most vulnerable, and that includes not just the old and sick, but also the physically exhausted. Most people don't get nearly enough sleep on a daily basis, so if it means that you have to skip your favorite TV shows for a few weeks to get some more shut-eye, so be it. Remember, unless you are one of those rare genetic mutants who only needs 6 hours of sleep per night, you should be striving for somewhere around <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2009-08-13-sleep-gene_N.htm">8.5 hours of quality sleep</a>.</p> <h2>If you get sick...</h2> <p>If you've managed to catch the swine flu, you can still take steps to avoid the worst aspects of the disease. The usual advice still applies: get plenty of rest, stay home if you can, remain hydrated, and allow people to tell you how good chicken soup is for you. For most people, this should be enough.</p> <p>For those with immuno-suppressive disorders or anyone considered &quot;high-risk,&quot; you might want to take an anti-viral medication within the first 24 hours of the onset of flu symptoms. Pneumonias develop when mucus and fluids in the lungs become infected with bacteria, which happens when the mucus is allowed to hang out and fester. To prevent pooling of mucus:</p> <ol> <li>Assuming you don't have any other conditions that would prevent this (like fresh stitches from an appendectomy), cough. Force yourself to cough; this moves the phlegm around in your chest and disrupts bacterial growth.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>When not sleeping, try to rest in an upright position.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Try to move around when you are sleeping. Don't just stay flat on your back for many hours at a time.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you develop a cough that isn't bringing up much phlegm, and you have your doctor's go-ahead, get your hands on a good <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mucolytic_agent">expectorant</a>&nbsp;that contains Guaifenesin, like Mucinex. Expectorants help to thin the mucus out, so that you can bring it up when you cough. Breaking up this nastiness and coughing it out is crucial to preventing infection.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you are asthmatic, be vigilant and keep in touch with your doctor as necessary. At the first instance of respiratory distress, get thee to a medical facility.</li> </ol> <p>**I am not a doctor, and nothing in this article should be construed as me giving medical advice. However, most of the tips given here do come from the Center for Disease Control or other reputable sources, so I promise that I am not just making stuff up. Please consult your physician before undertaking any new medical treatments.**</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/surviving-swine-flu" class="sharethis-link" title="Surviving Swine Flu" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/surviving-swine-flu">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/economic-effects-of-pandemic-flu-in-a-recession">Economic effects of pandemic flu in a recession</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-things-you-should-do-today-to-prepare-for-a-pandemic-flu">15 Things You Should Do Today to Prepare for a Pandemic Flu</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-preventing-swine-flu-naturally">Tips for Preventing Swine Flu Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-wonderful-uses-for-witch-hazel">15 Wonderful Uses for Witch Hazel</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-ultimate-list-of-hangover-cures">The Ultimate List of Hangover Cures</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> Health and Beauty cold cough epidemic flu shot h1n1 infection medicine pandemic pneumonia swine flu tamiflu Wed, 30 Sep 2009 17:37:19 +0000 Andrea Karim 3655 at http://www.wisebread.com How Much Does a Flu Shot Cost? http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-does-a-flu-shot-cost <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-much-does-a-flu-shot-cost" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/flu%20shot.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="187" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When it comes time for you to think about getting your seasonal flu shot, there are a few ways to go about getting one &ndash; each one with a different price tag. Before you run out and schedule that doctor&rsquo;s appointment, check out the many ways to snag a vaccine, for less than you&rsquo;d expect.</p> <h3>Schedule an appointment with your doctor</h3> <p>This is the way we all used to get vaccinations as kids. Whether you worked it into your back-to-school physical, or just made a special visit for all your vaccines at one time during another month, flu shots could be given along with your run-of-the-mill tetanus and MMR shots. Since most adults are caught up on these other shots, and possibly don&rsquo;t need to be seen for anything else, scheduling a traditional appointment can be the most costly way to get a flu shot (in fact, many facilities won&rsquo;t even allow you to do this). In addition to your office visit fee (which can range from $15-$120, depending on whether you have insurance), you&rsquo;ll pay between $15 and $50 for a flu shot.<b>Total cost: $30-$170 per shot.</b></p> <h3>Visit your local pharmacy</h3> <p>Perhaps the most popular way to get a flu shot without as much disruption to your day, pharmacies in both mom-and-pop and national chain stores are starting to offer flu shots on a walk-in basis. While the lines may be longer this year, due to the scare that H1N1 has caused, the procedures for obtaining a traditional flu shot (H1N1-specific shots are still on the horizon) are relatively painless, so to speak. To find out where you can get your shot, check your favorite pharmacy&rsquo;s website. <a href="http://www.walgreens.com">Walgreens</a>, for example, is already offering their clinic from 10am &ndash; 4pm all 7 days of the week. (Note: Since these are walk-in offerings, many pharmacies will not honor insurance &ndash; although some have been known to apply the cost against certain types of Medicare.) <b>Total Cost: $25 &ndash; 40 per shot.</b></p> <h3>Stop by a senior center</h3> <p>Since the elderly have traditionally been included in the high-risk group encouraged by doctors to get the shot each year, it&rsquo;s only common sense to make the shot available where they are likely to hang out. Shots given at these privately-run recreational facilities are usually competitively priced and are not limited to just those 55 and above. Call you local center or check the paper for news on when you can get yours. <b>Total Cost: $15 &ndash; 30 per shot&nbsp;</b></p> <h3>Free or low-cost clinics</h3> <p>Your local health and human services office may be your best bet to find cheap shots, if you are not covered by insurance or have many people in your family needing the vaccine. Check your state&rsquo;s HHS website to get details on community action programs in your area that will be holding shot clinics in the next few months. While usually no one is turned down (even those with higher incomes), a suggested donation is usually appreciated if you can afford it. <b>Total cost: Free - $20 per shot.</b></p> <p><b>****Thanks to commenter Dawn below, who reminded us that your employer will often have a low-cost or free flu shot program for employees.&nbsp; Not employed?&nbsp; Alyssa at <a href="http://kingdomfirstmom.com/2009/09/cvs-update-clearance-coupons-flu-shots.html">KingdomFirst Mom</a> let us know that CVS will be giving FREE&nbsp;shots to the unemployed.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.cvs.com/CVSApp/promoContent/promoLandingTemplate.jsp?promoLandingId=1138">Details to come</a>!</b></p> <p>With all the buzz surrounding the H1N1 virus, there have been talks of <a href="http://www.boston.com/news/health/articles/2009/08/13/state_asks_volunteers_to_aid_flu_vaccinations/">enlisting additional health professionals</a> to be on call to administer vaccines if necessary. While I wouldn&rsquo;t rush out to your dentist for that flu shot just yet, it may be another option in the months to come.</p> <p><strong>Additional reading:</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.kearneyhub.com/news/local/article_bdd7170c-9653-11de-b4b1-001cc4c03286.html">H1N1 Shots to be Given in Order of Risk</a> (Kearney Hub)</p> <p><a href="http://www.fox5vegas.com/news/20679810/detail.html">Pharmacies Start Flu Shot Campaigns</a> (Las Vegas Fox 5 News)</p> <p><a href="http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-flu-vaccine27-2009jul27,0,978514.story">Flu Shot Isn&rsquo;t for H1N1</a> (LA Times)</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-does-a-flu-shot-cost" class="sharethis-link" title="How Much Does a Flu Shot Cost?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-does-a-flu-shot-cost">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-you-really-need-soft-water">Do You Really Need “Soft” Water?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-a-dental-discount-plan-save-you-money">Will A Dental Discount Plan Save You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/eight-natural-ways-to-make-water-more-flavorful">Eight Natural Ways to Make Water More Flavorful</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/economic-effects-of-pandemic-flu-in-a-recession">Economic effects of pandemic flu in a recession</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-get-your-toiletries-for-cheap-or-even-free">6 Ways to Get your Toiletries for Cheap or Even Free!</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> Frugal Living Health and Beauty flu shot vaccine h1n1 Tue, 08 Sep 2009 19:00:01 +0000 Linsey Knerl 3582 at http://www.wisebread.com Economic effects of pandemic flu in a recession http://www.wisebread.com/economic-effects-of-pandemic-flu-in-a-recession <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/economic-effects-of-pandemic-flu-in-a-recession" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/flu-mask-mexico.jpg" alt="Flu masks in Mexico" title="Epidemia de Pánico / Panic Epidemy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="183" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>While health authorities worry about the human cost of pandemics, other policy-makers have tended to focus on the economic costs. Economic impact takes many forms--drops in production as workers stay home, drops in commerce as shoppers avoid crowded places, drops in tourism as travelers avoid affected areas. Does the current economic crisis make us more vulnerable than usual, if the swine flu outbreak in Mexico and a few US cities goes pandemic?</p> <p>Two recent illnesses that seemed to pose a threat of pandemic disease--bird flu and SARS--give us some insight into the kind of economic impacts we need to consider.</p> <h2>SARS and Bird flu</h2> <p>In the case of SARS, there was a <a href="http://www.dni.gov/nic/special_sarsthreat.html">substantial economic impact</a>, with the affected Asian countries losing $25 to $30 billion mostly in the tourism, service, aviation, and restaurant sectors--and another $2 billion lost in Toronto alone. In addition to the lost dollars, there were also serious job losses--up to 3 million jobs just in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Vietnam.</p> <p>In the case of bird flu (aka avian influenza), the <a href="http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/EASTASIAPACIFICEXT/EXTEAPREGTOPHEANUT/0,,contentMDK:20713527~pagePK:34004173~piPK:34003707~theSitePK:503048,00.html">economic impacts</a> were rather different. Much of the impact--an estimated $10 billion--resulted from culling poultry to stem the spread of the disease (and the related costs to the government for equipment, personnel, and so on).</p> <h2>Current swine flu threat</h2> <p>Those were both instances where the threatened expansion to pandemic disease did not occur. Just the threat, though, caused widespread ripple effects--not only do people avoid tourism to the affected areas, people already in the affected areas take more drastic measures to limit the spread of the disease. For example, in Mexico, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/centralamericaandthecaribbean/mexico/5215544/Swine-flu-outbreak-kills-scores-in-Mexico-amid-fears-it-has-spread-to-US.html">government officials have closed schools</a> and advised people to avoid crowds.</p> <p>People tend to pay some attention to government announcements of that sort, but they also do their own thinking--and may take more drastic measures, such as staying home from work and avoiding stores. That can have serious economic effects.</p> <p>A recession, though, may actually mitigate some of those effects.</p> <p>People are already avoiding unnecessary shopping, so economic activity probably won't fall nearly as much from their already-low levels as they would have otherwise. Similarly, people who are unemployed are already not going to work, so it makes no difference if they continue staying home.</p> <p>On the other hand, many people who still have jobs are probably more afraid than usual that they might lose them. That, combined with other pressures from the recession, might prompt people to go to work even when they fear exposure to contagious disease. (In fact, we already <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/talking_point/8018428.stm">see this happening</a>.) This may reduce the economic impact, but potentially at the cost of greater illness and death.</p> <h2>Fear and reality</h2> <p>Just fear of a pandemic can produce substantial costs to the economy, if people stay home rather than work and shop. If a really deadly disease becomes widespread, however, things can get much worse. People who are in the hospital can't come to work no matter how great the risk that staying home might cost them their job. And, of course, people who are dead never return to work at all.</p> <p>The 1918 flu pandemic is estimated to have killed at least 2.5% of the world population. With the current world population, similar results would mean some 170 million deaths worldwide.</p> <p>That sort of population decrease has far-reaching economic effects. With fewer people, there's less demand. Less demand results in lower prices--potentially for everything (food, housing, consumer goods, factory equipment). The result might well be yet another downward leg in the recessionary spiral.</p> <p>On the other hand, it's a different sort of drop in demand. The normal recessionary spiral results in dropping standards of living, because people (whether by choice or due to economic circumstances) buy less. A drop in demand produced by a smaller population, though, doesn't necessarily have the same result--individual household consumption can actually rise (because the things they want to buy are cheaper) even though total consumption is down (because there are fewer people). In the aftermath of the Black Death, <a href="http://www.britainexpress.com/History/medieval/black-death.htm">standards of living actually rose</a> (for the survivors), due to higher wages for now-scarce workers.</p> <h2>In a financial crisis</h2> <p>There is, though, a related but different set of dangers. The financial crisis has put the economy into an unusually stressed state, exposed to many risks that too few policy makers and financial executives expected. The danger of pandemic disease is yet another layer of risks and costs on top of a financial industry that is already undercapitalized and holding large amounts of debt that is never going to be paid back. The costs--workers staying home, executives unable to travel--are probably modest. The risks, though are huge:</p> <ul> <li>Businesses in industries affected by pandemic (or fear of pandemic) will fail, leaving their debts unpaid</li> <li>Debtors will die, leaving their debts unpaid as well</li> <li>Families will lose breadwinners, adding to the burden on aid agencies and others</li> <li>Governments will be too distracted by the new crisis to deal effectively with the old one</li> </ul> <p>On balance, I'd say that the recession generally reduces the financial impacts of pandemic disease. The financial crisis, however, makes the economy particularly vulnerable to any shock. I don't see much that ordinary people can do to mitigate those risks. The risks ordinary people should keep their eye on are the risks to their health.</p> <p><em>[Update 26 April 2009:&nbsp; I found a good 2005 article from the CDC <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol5no5/meltzer.htm">The Economic Impact of Pandemic Influenza in the United States: Priorities for Intervention</a>.&nbsp; It looks in considerable detail at the costs of mass imunization programs, hospitalizations, and so on.] </em></p> <p><em>[Update 28 April 2009:&nbsp; The US government has a <a href="http://www.pandemicflu.gov/">pandemic flu site</a> that includes a page on <a href="http://www.pandemicflu.gov/impacts/index.html">economic impacts</a>.]</em></p> <p><em>[Update 8 August 2009: </em></p> <p>Another US government site <a href="http://www.flu.gov/">flu.gov</a> has lots of policy suggetions aimed a minimizing economic impacts.&nbsp; (For example, they advise against closing schools in favor of having sick people stay home.)&nbsp;</p> <p>The <em>Economist</em> had two recent stories on the economic impact of the flu:&nbsp;<span style="text-decoration: underline;"><span style="font-weight: bold;"> </span></span><a href="http://www.economist.com/businessfinance/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14094145">Cold comfort</a> (The economic impact of swine flu may not be that bad) and <a href="http://www.economist.com/agenda/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14115951">The cost of swine flu</a> (Swine flu hits public health and the economy in South America.]</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/economic-effects-of-pandemic-flu-in-a-recession" class="sharethis-link" title="Economic effects of pandemic flu in a recession" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/economic-effects-of-pandemic-flu-in-a-recession">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/surviving-swine-flu">Surviving Swine Flu</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-a-dental-discount-plan-save-you-money">Will A Dental Discount Plan Save You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-new-normal-economy">The new normal economy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-things-you-should-do-today-to-prepare-for-a-pandemic-flu">15 Things You Should Do Today to Prepare for a Pandemic Flu</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/preparing-for-a-recession">Preparing for a Recession</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> Personal Finance Health and Beauty bird flu black death economic Economy flu h1n1 h5n1 Health influenza pandemic plague recession sars swine flu Sun, 26 Apr 2009 01:07:45 +0000 Philip Brewer 3086 at http://www.wisebread.com